84, Charing Cross Road by the Bourne Footlights: Theatre review (Nov 6-8)
As soon as you entered the Bourne Corn Exchange Hall and saw the stage set, you realised you were in for a treat.
The high shelves of books, the steps in the shop, the old typewriter and the Bush radio in Helene’s office; with books scattered around the floor and screwed up notepaper under the table; she lit up yet another cigarette and poured more gin.
It was a contrast to the neat and tidy surroundings of Frank’s domain – with no sign of anything in the wrong place.
As soon as she spoke, Helene’s accent was with us and was well sustained throughout the evening, with the wit, the sadness, the anger and impatience coming through – making us laugh and, a moment later, bringing the tears.
It was a star performance from Frances Bridgewater as she pursued the very precise Frank through letter after letter. At the same time she developed a longing to meet and fall in love with this patient and polite Englishman who never failed her – even though her quest for some of the books took a long time.
Frank managed the bookshop and always replied to her demands for the obscure in a most demure and polite manner, not allowing any other members of staff to do this. Once again, it was another star performance from Ian Gibbs.
"All of the cast, and the brilliant direction of Maureen Berkes, gave us an evening of great entertainment and excellence."
The staff in the bookshop are all to be commended for their attention to detail. Their whole perception of that type and time were lovingly and carefully portrayed and their respect and care for Frank, and indeed Helene, were treasured. So top marks to Nigel Stacey, Lynn Kirk, Jane Gabbutt, Lorraine Spencer and Harry Spooner for their endearing performances.
A great treat was to see John Megson treading the boards again as Mr Martin who had worked for Marks & Co Bookshop for many years.
All of the cast, and the brilliant direction of Maureen Berkes, gave us an evening of great entertainment and excellence.
And praise goes to all involved in building the set and the sound, lighting and make-up, for adding to the success of the evening. The applause at the close of the performance said it all.
Reviewed by Judy Smith
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